Anyone with a copy of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1e) Dungeon Master’s Guide is probably familiar with Appendix N: Inspirational and Educational Reading. Gary Gygax listed the books that he considered instrumental in forming his vision of a fantasy world, the vision that eventually took shape in the game we all know and love.
It’s easy enough to produce a list of excellent fantasy books, but I thought that some of those who never saw this list before might be interested in seeing which books Gary thought worthy of including.
Sadly, I have only read a few of these. Although I prefer fantasy RPGs, my reading tastes lean more towards science fiction (as well as science journals, and web design related materials). Lately though, I have been reading the Gord the Rogue series and have found it fascinating. So much so that I’ve found a newborn desire to read as many of these old classics as I can locate.
Appendix N: Inspirational and Educational Reading
Inspiration for all of the fantasy work I have done stems directly from the love my father showed when I was a tad, for he spent many hours telling me stories he made up as he went along, tales of cloaked old men who could grant wishes, of magic rings and enchanted swords, or wicked sorcerers and dauntless swordsmen. Then too, countless hundreds of comic books went down, and the long-gone EC ones certainly had their effect. Science fiction, fantasy, and horror movies were a big influence. In fact, all of us tend to get ample helpings of fantasy when we are very young, from fairy tales such as those written by the Brothers Grimm and Andrew Lang. This often leads to reading books of mythology, paging through bestiaries, and consultation of compilations of the myths of various lands and peoples. Upon such a base I built my interest in fantasy, being an avid reader of all science fiction and fantasy literature since 1950. The following authors were of particular inspiration to me. In some cases I cite specific works, in others, I simply recommend all their fantasy writing to you. From such sources, as well as just about any other imaginative writing or screenplay you will be able to pluck kernels from which grows the fruits of exciting campaigns. Good reading!
– Gary Gygax
|Anderson, Pohl||Three Hearts & Three Lions|
The High Crusade
The Broken Sword
|Bellairs, John||The Face In The Frost|
|Burroughs, Edgar Rice||“Pellucidar” series|
|Carter, Lin||“World’s End” series|
|De Camp, L. Sprague||Lest Darkness Fall|
|De Camp & Pratt||“Harold Shea” series|
|Farmer, P. J.||“The World of Tiers” series|
|Fox, Gardner||“Kothar” series|
|Howard, R.E.||“Conan” series|
|Lanier, Sterling||Hiero’s Journey|
|Leiber, Fritz||“Fafhrd & Gray Mouser” series|
|Merritt, A.||Creep, Shadow, Creep|
Dwellers In The Mirage
Stealer of Souls
“Hawkmoon” series (esp. the first three books)
|Offutt, Andrew J.||(editor) Swords Against Darkness III|
|Pratt, Fletcher||Blue Star|
|Saberhagen, Fred||Changeling Earth|
|St. Clair, Margaret||The Shadow People|
Sign of the Labrys
|Tolkien, J.R.R.||The Hobbit|
|Vance, Jack||The Eyes of the Overworld|
The Dying Earth
|Wellman, Manly Wade|
|Zelazny, Roger||Jack of Shadows|
The most immediate influences upon AD&D were probably de Camp & Pratt, REH, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, HPL, and A. Merritt; but all of the above authors, as well as many not listed, certainly helped to shape the form of the game. For this reason, and for the hours of reading enjoyment, I heartily recommend the works of these fine authors to you.
– Gary Gygax
What Books Would You Add?
I’m sure most people would add the Harry Potter series. Beyond that I think I would add the Dune series (the first three books) as an example of a desert people. Robert Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel, although a science fiction story, is (I believe) the origin of the Illithids (Mind Flayers). Many attribute this race to a book by H.P. Lovecraft (whose name I can’t recall and have never read), but Heinlein’s evil aliens closely resemble Illithids in many ways. Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series is quite inspiring as well. Oh, how could I forget Stephen Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant or Mirror of Her Dreams series.
|Anne McCaffrey||“Dragonriders of Pern” series|
|Frank Herbert||“Dune” series|
|J.K. Rowling||“Harry Potter” series|
|Robert Heinlein||Have Space Suit, Will Travel|
|Stephan Donaldson||“Chronicles of Thomas Covenant” series|
“Mirror of Her Dreams’ series
That’s my short list. I’m sure I left out dozens. What other fantasy books would you include?